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Walk the Moon talks new album ahead of Copper Mountain Resort performance

Union Peak Festival combines community, art and sport

Walk the Moon is headlining the inaugural Union Peak Festival at Copper Mountain Resort. Known for its hit “Shut Up and Dance,” the group plays for free Saturday, Sept. 11, followed by a $100 private acoustic set.
Grant Spanier/Courtesy photo

Though many had a three-day holiday last weekend, that isn’t stopping Copper Mountain Resort from putting together three days of activities to highlight the arts, sports and local community this weekend. The inaugural Union Peak Festival runs from Friday, Sept. 10, through Sunday, Sept. 12, and features live music, curated art experiences, sport clinics and more.

“We’ve seen that there’s an appetite for this sort of event in our community, so we’re excited to be able to introduce Union Peak Festival as something new,” Copper spokesperson Olivia Butrymovich said.

Musical acts include Grammy-nominated rock band The Record Company and indie pop band Saint Motel as well as Kind Hearted Strangers, Ida Mae and Lady Denim.



It may seem strange to have fly-fishing demonstrations and bike tuning alongside concerts, but Butrymovich said it was an easy decision to strengthen the resort’s brand as a destination for athletes. The weekend also features a climbing wall, golf clinics, yoga, hiking with a ranger, boot camp with CrossFit Low Oxygen and more.

Some Union Peak Festival activities aren’t much different than regular summer offerings, but there are a select few that stand out. Saturday morning begins with the Summit Up 7K to benefit Team Summit. Registration is free, but donations are encouraged.



Sunday starts off with the chance to ride the Kokomo Express lift up to Koko’s Hut for sunrise yoga, acoustic music, Copper Mountain Jade Yoga mats, fresh pastries and mimosas. The ticketed event costs $25. Afterward, people can enjoy a $10 pancake breakfast to support the Summit Community Care Clinic.

There is also a $250 VIP pass available to supplement the free events, including access to a Friday night mixer, concert viewing on the Sawmill patio, a private lounge with refreshments throughout the weekend, swag and more.

“This is more than just a weekend of music,” Butrymovich said. “There’s so much to do to fill the day ahead of these performances.”

Grammy-nominated rock band The Record Company performs at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 10, for Copper Mountain Resort’s Union Peak Festival. The festival continues with more music and events Saturday and Sunday.
Jacob Blickenstaff/Courtesy photo
Union Peak Festival highlights

Friday, Sept. 10

4:30 p.m. Jamestown Revival at Peak Stage at Eagle’s Landing

6:30 p.m. The Record Company at Peak Stage at Eagle’s Landing

8 p.m. VIP welcome mixer with Mike Woodard at C.B. Grille

Saturday, Sept. 11

8 a.m. Summit Up 7K at Eagle’s Landing

2 p.m. Kind Hearted Strangers at West Lake Stage

4 p.m. Ida Mae at Peak Stage at Eagle’s Landing

6 p.m. Walk the Moon at Peak Stage at Eagle’s Landing

7:30 p.m. Clair Elich in Ten Mile Tavern

8 p.m. Festival after-party with Walk the Moon and DJ Thinkbenjamin at C.B. Grille

Sunday, Sept. 12

8 a.m. Sunrise yoga at Koko’s

9:30 a.m. Community breakfast with Nita Waters at Jack’s Grill

11 a.m. Beer tasting with music from Kind Hearted Strangers at Timberline Express

1 p.m. Brendan O’Hara at Subie Shack at Jack’s Lawn

2:30 p.m. Lady Denim at Peak Stage at Eagle’s Landing

4:30 p.m. Saint Motel at Peak Stage at Eagle’s Landing

6 p.m. Brendan O’Hara at Subie Shack at Jack’s Lawn

Visit CopperColorado.com for more details and to register or purchase tickets for select events.

In the ‘Heights’

However, music fans should know that headlining the festival is Walk the Moon. The rock band formed in Cincinnati in 2006, released the successful track “Anna Sun” in 2010 and followed that up with its 2014 hit “Shut Up and Dance.”

Founder and lead singer Nicholas Petricca said it was impossible to predict the success of “Shut Up and Dance.” He said he had a love-hate relationship with the song and that it initially led to a bit of an identity crisis for the band as it wanted to be known for more than that song. Now, he’s learned to embrace its popularity.

“It doesn’t matter; we’re just going to keep making music that we love and trust that the songs will have whatever story they’re meant to have,” Petricca said “… It’s just amazing that the song became what it did.”

Petricca said he’ll frequently get videos from friends or family members at weddings with the song playing in the background.

“It’s wild how it has become part of people’s lives and making memories,” Petricca said. “It’s just such a dream, you know. It’s really cool.”

Petricca’s musical dreams started when he was in his teens after he began playing piano at age 7. Walk the Moon formed as Petricca was studying music at Kenyon College, yet it took some time for the current lineup with drummer Sean Waugaman and guitarist and bassist Eli Maiman to solidify. The trio has been combining Petricca’s love of the ’80s — such as Talking Heads, David Bowie, the Police, Tears for Fears and Phil Collins — with Waugaman’s interest in metal and Maiman’s jazz background for a decade.

“It’s a very diverse group of personalities,” Petricca said. “That sort of contrast and tension adds to what makes us who we are. Everybody is very creative. Sean is like the most musical drummer I ever played with, and Eli is a very prolific, creative guitarist. It’s been quite a creative journey.”

The group was in the midst of putting together its fifth album, “Heights,” when the coronavirus pandemic hit. At first, they didn’t know if it was possible to finish the record, but then they used their home studios in Los Angeles and Cincinnati to get it done. It is the first album without former bassist Kevin Ray, who left in December 2020.

Petricca said there was a bit of learning curve, but he liked that he didn’t have to worry about paying for studio time with a producer. He can simply get out of bed, turn on the computer and is instantly at work.

“In a way, it freed up more time to get mad-scientist on the songs and try things out and pore over details in a way that maybe we wouldn’t have necessarily been able to on the clock in the studio,” Petricca said.

It’s hard for Petricca to say how long they’ve been working on “Heights” as some tracks were cut from previous albums years ago. He said the real sessions for the album started at the end of 2019, but there were demos and pieces of music from all over the band’s archive.

So far three tracks — “Can You Handle My Love??,” “I’m Good” and “Giants” — have been released, with the full album coming out later this year. Union Peak Festival guests will likely hear the new tracks as they bid their time for “Heights.”

Aside from recording, Petricca used the pandemic to perform virtual concerts and take advantage of social media.

“As a person who doesn’t love social media and technology, I found a lot of joy being able to be connected and bring some good vibrations through the world through that medium in that time,” Petricca said.

Petricca witnessed those supportive feelings firsthand when he came out as bisexual in July 2020 on Instagram. He hopes he can pass along encouragement to others.

“It was never something I felt like I needed to do in my personal circle, but realizing that, as an artist … any way that you express yourself, you’re really giving permission to others who may not feel that permission,” he said. “No one needs it, truly, but sometimes we look to others and realize we’re free to do the same. … If it empowers one person to do the same, then I’m on board.”

Petricca is glad to have moved away from livestreams with in-person performances again. Walk the Moon’s first show in months was July’s WonderStruck festival in Cleveland, and he equated it to being thrown into the deep end of a pool.

“One, we forgot how much energy this takes — we were sweating — and, two, how much energy the audience is pumping into you,” Petricca said. “It’s such a beautiful exchange of energy. It’s so vivifying. Like, ‘Oh right, this is what it’s all about. This is what we’re missing.’”

All concerts at the Union Peak Festival are free to attend, but Walk the Moon fans can upgrade their night with a private after-party following Saturday’s performance. The party will include an intimate, acoustic set limited to 100 attendees.

Such an experience is uncommon for Walk the Moon, but Petricca loves the opportunity to bring new life to songs when done acoustically.

“Sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh, this song works when it’s literally just a chord and a melody,’” Petricca said. “It’s really neat to see what’s there when it’s all boiled down to its bare elements.”

The party is at C.B. Grille and costs $100 per person.

Walk the Moon’s fifth album, “Heights,” is set to release this year. Part of it was recorded remotely during the pandemic, and it is the first album the band did as a trio.
Copper Mountain Resort/Courtesy photo

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